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  • Writer's pictureNonprofit Learning Lab

5 Fundraising Ideas to Boost Donor Engagement

Updated: Aug 29, 2023

This is a sponsored blog by Bre Alexander from iWave

To boost donor engagement and maximize fundraising efforts, nonprofits need to think creatively and implement new strategies. In this post, we’ll explore five fundraising ideas that can help nonprofits cultivate stronger relationships with their donors, expand their reach, and create a sense of community surrounding their cause.

From hosting unique events to donor surveys, these ideas will provide practical approaches to enhancing donor engagement.

Let’s dive in!

1. Host a Unique Event

The event you'll want to host depends on your organization type and mission. Aim to think outside the box and deliver events relevant to the donors you're looking to attract.

A few ideas include:

Host an interactive event: This is an excellent opportunity to showcase your organization's impact and accomplishments through demonstrations, presentations, and exhibits. Interactive events provide attendees with a firsthand experience of your nonprofit's work and creates networking opportunities.

Outdoorsy adventure fundraiser: Plan a charity hike, bike, run, or dance-a-thon. Participants can gain support through pledges from friends and family as they take on a physical challenge. These events not only promote health but a sense of camaraderie among participants. Fundraising events also have a high potential of reaching a large number of people due to the nature of them being promoted through social media channels by the participants.

Art exhibit/auction: Organize an exhibition and auction featuring local artists and community members. The auction portion of the event will provide funds for your cause. An exhibition combines philanthropy with the appreciation of art and can attract a unique, diverse audience interested in supporting local art and your organization.

It's important to note with any event that a well formed project plan needs to be in place before moving forward.

2. Peer-to-Peer Fundraising

Peer-to-peer fundraising (P2P) is a strategy where supporters of your organization raise funds on the nonprofit's behalf through outreach to their family, friends, and colleagues. It can turn your supporters into fundraisers, leveraging their networks to expand your organization's reach and impact.

How it typically works:

Your donors become fundraisers: Recruit existing donors, volunteers, or people passionate about your cause. Provide them with the tools and resources they need to succeed, such as online fundraising pages to facilitate their efforts.

Personalized fundraising pages: Each supporter creates a unique online fundraising page that outlines their story, explains why they're participating, and highlights their goals and what they wish to accomplish. This page often includes videos, images, and progress updates to keep donors informed and engaged.

Sharing/asking for donations: Supporters reach out to their networks through various channels such as social media, email, phone, and personal conversations. They publicly share their fundraising page and solicit donations. The fundraiser's connection to your cause generally resonates with their networks and motivates them to contribute.

Team formation: P2P fundraising often involves teams of fundraisers who collectively work towards a common fundraising goal. This can foster friendly competition and collaboration, creating a sense of purpose and community.

Progress tracking: Donors and fundraisers can track the progress of their campaign through live, real-time updates on the fundraiser's page. This transparency keeps donors engaged and motivates the fundraiser to reach their goal.

Recognition: These can include personalized thank you messages, badges, leaderboards, public acknowledgments, or even rewards for your top fundraisers.

Benefits of P2P fundraising:

Data and donor acquisition: P2P campaigns often generate valuable data about your donors and potential supporters, helping you expand your reach for future campaigns.

Cost-effective: P2P leverages existing supporters, reducing your organization's outreach and marketing efforts.

Increased reach: P2P taps into your donors' networks, enabling you to reach a much wider audience.

Enhanced engagement: Your supporters become more actively engaged in your cause, deepening their commitment to your organization.

Trust and authenticity: Personal endorsements boost the authenticity and credibility of your efforts.

Remember, the success of any P2P fundraising campaign hinges on nonprofits providing fundraisers with comprehensive resources and support. Effectively communicate the impact of donations, set achievable goals, and maintain communications throughout.

3. Offer volunteer opportunities

This idea may seem like a no-brainer, but if you need to offer more volunteer opportunities, now is the time to start! Again, evaluating what's most important for your nonprofit while weighing what will interest potential volunteers to get involved is essential.

Here are a few ideas to get you thinking:

Skill-based volunteering: Offer your supporters who have specialized skill sets such as marketing, web development, or graphic design to offer their support and expertise on particular projects and initiatives.

Virtual volunteering: Develop opportunities that can be done from anywhere, specifically remotely. Offer opportunities to help, such as online research, translation services, content creation, or mentorship programs.

Wellness programs: Create volunteer-run wellness or fitness programs such as yoga classes, mindfulness workshops, or outdoor clubs to encourage and promote mental and physical well-being.

Customizing your volunteer experience and recognizing your volunteers' contributions are important to fostering a successful volunteer program.

4. Personalized thank you notes/videos

37% of donors are annoyed if an organization doesn't thank them for their contributions. What about the other 63%? The lack of a thank you could impact their future donations even if they don't say it. 65% of donors would give more if they knew the impact of their contribution.

Keeping your donors happy and engaged can be as simple as a personalized thank you letter outlining their contributions' impact.

Here are a few steps to consider when crafting a perfect thank-you letter:

  1. Be intentional: Thank you letters need strategic planning to ensure they include both thought and intention.

  2. Handwritten is best: Though handwritten letters may seem outdated, it's a surefire way to show your thought and appreciation to your donors.

  3. Make it personal: When you're writing a letter, make sure you know who to address. This could be the primary donor or donors if it is a private donation or the CEO if it is a corporate gift.

  4. Define the impact: Make sure you understand their giving affinity and use it to tailor the message to tell the story of the impact they made. For example, if your food bank receives a donation, find a way to demonstrate how many meals the donor helped provide.

  5. Consider including a CTA: Creating a specific ask about a current or upcoming campaign allows you to increase donor engagement while increasing donations. Be sure to evaluate if it’s appropriate to include an additional ask in any specific thank you note.

5. Donor surveys

Donor surveys provide valuable insights into your donors' preferences, motivations, and organizational satisfaction levels. By gathering feedback directly from supporters, nonprofits can refine their strategies, enhance engagement, and improve donor stewardship.

Let's look at some different types of donor surveys that are commonly used:

Feedback surveys: Gather specific feedback on events, campaigns, or fundraising initiatives. Feedback surveys help you understand what worked well and what needs to be improved.

Donor preference surveys: Dive into your donors' interests and preferences, including the types of projects and programs they would like to support, their motivations for giving, and their preferred communications methods.

Donor experience surveys: Explore your donors' experiences, from first engagement to ongoing involvement. They aid nonprofits in identifying touchpoints where donors may encounter friction. Donor experience surveys enable your organization to create a more streamlined, engaging donor journey.

Nonprofits can use several methods to distribute and collect surveys:

Online: Using web-based survey platforms or email

Paper: Can be distributed at events, mailed to donors, or included in direct mail campaigns

Phone: Consider utilizing volunteers or outsourced services to gather donor feedback

When conducting donor surveys, respecting your donors' privacy and time is important. Ensure your survey questions are straightforward and provide opportunities for donors to provide feedback.

In closing

Increasing donor engagement is an important goal for nonprofits aiming to increase their efforts and make a greater impact. Incorporating these fundraising ideas and strategies can strengthen the overall effectiveness of your organization. By fostering deeper relationships, leveraging networks, and providing meaningful opportunities to get involved, nonprofits can create sustainable support.


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